As carefree as a bike ride among Tuscan sunflowers — there’s a specter threatening to haunt us from Europe, as Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg reported recently in Business Insider: “Buried in pages of amendments to the European Union’s latest privacy proposal, the ePrivacy Regulation, members of the European Parliament recently recommended language that would strip European publishers of the right to monetize their content through advertising, eviscerating the basic business model that has supported journalism for more than 200 years. The new directive would require publishers to grant everyone access to their digital sites, even to users who block their ads, effectively creating a shoplifting entitlement for consumers of news, social media, email services, or entertainment.”
Juxtapose this nightmare scenario with what consumers are coming to expect from their online experiences — greater context and more relevant experiences — and you can see the “Great Disconnect” between digital data, consumer experience and at least some European policymakers. Says Flashtalking CEO John Nardone recently on another topic in Marketing Land: “Advertising that is not data-inspired, data-enabled, personally relevant and relevant across time and context is increasingly advertising wasted.” Another study by the Digital Advertising Alliance (disclosure, a client, but also not a lobbying organization) says that U.S. consumers, at least, place a $1,197 dividend on the free content they consume on desktop and mobile environments.
Yes, the American marketplace is not Europe, but we should be very concerned about western democracies — among anyone — taking a position that effectively de-finances journalism, diminishes and disempowers a consumer marketplace, gives a free pass to ad blockers (normalizing the thieving of content, in effect encouraging it), and other behaviors that are anti-commerce. How much are Europeans willing to sacrifice in the name of privacy? Their own economic well-being to start — publishers, advertisers and, yes, consumers.
In that Europe demands that other countries meet its privacy expectations in order to allow data flows on European Union citizens outside European borders, you can see the intended, amplified effects that the EU is seeking to set in motion. One target may well be USA and ad tech companies.
I’ve long said we can’t take Information out of the Information Economy and still have the efficiency, productivity and consumer discovery made possible by data-driven marketing. Let’s hope reason prevails both in Brussels — and under the Tuscan sun.